February 3, 2006

JASON Aloe Vera Deodorant Stick

According to the JÃSÖN Natural Products website, "This natural deodorant is mild, safe and delivers long-lasting protection." While two out of three is generally good odds, it doesn't work with deodorant when you're trying not to offend the public.

Is the product mild? Quite. I am a delicate creature that has problems using standard deodorants. I am always on the lookout for one that does not irritate, but still does a modestly good job (I realize we can't perform miracles.) With the JÃSÖN deodorant, there was no burning or stinging sensation when applied, so 'mild' would be an appropriate word.

Is the product safe? Absolutely. Beyond the fact that rubbing nothing into your armpits is the safest way to go, this product has no aluminum chlorohydrate or alcohol. The ingredients include organic aloe vera gel (a proven skin soothing agent) and vitamin E (a healing agent.)

Does the product deliver long-lasting protection? No. Now, I wasn't running marathons or even pushing the baby stroller at a fast clip the day that I tested this product, however I can only conceive couch potato status would be an adequate level of activity when using JÃSÖN Aloe Vera deodorant. And even then you might have to reapply several times. While there was a refreshing scent to the actual stick, I can't quite claim the same thing about myself when wearing it.
Since I seek out a deodorant that is more natural, I understand and expect not to be "protected" for 24 straight hours, but rather coverage for a good portion of my day. I appreciate the effort to be as natural as possible in an unnatural solution to body grooming, but in this case, the product delivers too much natural and not enough protection.

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Garden of Eatin' Blue Corn Chips

Glorious! Heavenly! And sometimes, an accidental full meal. The Garden of Eatin' line of blue corn tortilla chips are by far my favorite chips in the blue chip arena. There are actually 6 different varieties of the blue: regular, low salt, "Red Hot", "Little Soy Blues", "Sesame Blues" and "Sunny Blues". While I haven't come across the soy or sunflower variations (each offers organic soybeans and organic sunflower seeds, respectively), I have to say the other four are a delight.

Garden of Eatin's blues are dense, crisp chips that hold up well to heavy guacamole or chili, large enough for a delightful mouthful, but small enough to scoop into most salsa jars (as those of us that are lazy chip eaters will appreciate.)

All are hearty and packed full of corn flavor without being greasy or bland, thanks to the organic blue corn and expeller pressed oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil. The original flavor has just the right amount of salt so not to overpower sauces and dips. I like how the No Salt version is healthier and yet the chip packed with taste. Sesame Blues has a hint of nutty sesame flavor, and goes wonderfully with fresh guacamole and/or salsa. Red Hot Blues are spicy enough to make you stand up and take notice, but not enough to make you sweat.

With only a few high quality ingredients, and so much taste, you can't help but wonder what is going on with all the other chips out there.

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February 2, 2006

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural All Purpose Cleaner

After trying Seventh Generation's Free and Clear Natural All Purpose cleaner, I wondered why I've ever used traditional toxic cleaners. Why on earth would I spray chemicals all over my home when a natural alternative works so well? According to the Seventh Generation Web site, this cleaner is non-toxic, biodegradable, and contains no chlorine or ammonia. It's not tested on animals and doesn't include any animal ingredients.

I tested this cleaner on several areas around the house, including a stove that had suffered from a nasty encounter with a bubbling pot of red pasta sauce (see the before and after pictures). It cleaned up nicely after a single application and minimal elbow grease. After perusing the Seventh Generation Web site, I ran across a press release regarding a 2003 article from the Wall Street Journal in which this product was selected as the "Best Overall" eco-cleaner by the Wall Street Journal Catalog Critic. I was definitely satisfied with my own experience.

So put any fears you might have about how "those natural cleaners just don't work" to rest, and give 'em a try. How can you not love a cleaner who's "CAUTION" statement reads: "If swallowed, drink a glassful of water."

One note: the "Free & Clear" line is free of added fragrances, which doesn't mean it has no smell at all. There's a very subtle but kind of odd, almost "fishy" type odor. If you don't have a sensitivity to fragrances, you may want to try one of the citrus-scented cleaners.

To stock up on this product at Amazon.com, click here.

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January 30, 2006

Peanut Butter & Co. The Heat Is On

Brooklyn-based Peanut Butter & Co.'s The Heat Is On all-natural peanut butter blend is not for the faint of heart. They're not kidding when they describe it as a blend with "fiery spices."

The first hint that this is no ordinary natural peanut butter (well, outside of the NAME of course) is the alarming red hue to the separated oil on top. Be careful mixing it up on a white countertop! I thought maybe it would be pretty much like regular peanut butter with just a hint of spice, but no, this is full-boar hot. It's masked a bit at first by the creaminess of the peanuts, but there's a real kick afterwards. Definitely not something I would eat on my morning bagel, even though I am a spicy-food freak. However, I can see using it in recipes and am fantasizing about trying this stuff on a peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwich. I don't think jelly would mesh well, but I'd be willing to give mango chutney a try.

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January 26, 2006

Amy's Organic Refried Beans with Chiles

Once upon a time, I purchased, and rather religiously I might add, any old brand of refried beans with reckless abandon. I didn't care that texture and color were an afterthought in their creation. I just plopped the molded can shape into the pot to heat, doused it with Tabasco, and spread it on under the guacamole.

Then I found Amy's Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans with Green Chiles.

Who knew that refried beans could taste like... well ... beans! They actually have whole beans with a distinguishable shape, rather than what I'd come to expect as the standard of just a pile of pasty brown. Amy's Vegetarian Organic Refried Beans have a texture and a smoky bean taste that is delightful and surprising. And with no meat products in the mix I'm not even afraid to eat them cold!

The little chiles are a wonderful addition. Now, I leave the Tabasco for my eggs. The spice of the chiles is subtle and it isn't until 3/4 of my bean burrito is missing that the tingle in the lips starts to spread.

Thank you Amy's Kitchen for creating wonderful tasting refried beans that are completely organic and don't have any questionable meat ingredients. I'm now a brand loyalist! You make eating nachos feel like doing a good deed.

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January 25, 2006

Naked Juice: The Superfoods Selection

Trying to find an appropriate time to stuff a couple of teaspoons of blue green algae into your mouth can be difficult, not to mention wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina, and chlorella. However, the Naked Juices Superfood line makes taking in ultimate nutrition with ultimate taste a treat.

nakedgreen.jpgNaked Juice is made from "bare-naked fruit", with no added sugar, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and claims to have a pound of fruit in every bottle. A Superfood is any food that is high in enzymes, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, Chlorophyll, and antioxidants.

Naked Juice offers 3 flavors in their Superfood line.
"Green Machine" in my opinion, is the best of the three offering 5 superfoods in just one drink. While the color can cause a bit of anxiety (green juices do not have a history of good flavor), this one tastes more like apples, bananas and kiwi then grass -- something Odwalla has yet to master in their own green nutrient dense juice.

"Blue Machine", contains a host of berries and vitamins and general opinion would probably state that it is the best tasting of the three. More like a bottle of blueberries and blackberries, you could almost pour this stuff over vanilla ice cream it is so sublime.

"Red Machine" is a follow-up to the green and contains red algae or dulse and grain flax seed (for the omega-3 fatty acid content). Red Machine's motto is "Tangy, tart, good for the heart".

Be sure to drink your Superfood smoothie cold (kept at below 38 degrees Fahrenheit). Naked Juice lists the juices as available in 10oz, 15.2oz, 32oz, 64oz and 128oz.

All of these drinks are certified Kosher and vegan approved. The Naked Juice Superfood line makes great breakfast boosters.

Click the following link to read ingredient lists...

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January 20, 2006

Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix

arrowbuck1.jpgarrowbuck2.jpg(I think they have recently updated their packaging, so check for either/both when browsing the aisles.)

This is a wonderful mix that takes a little practice to get exactly what you want out of it. Before you panic, let me explain. Buckwheat is much denser than wheat, and a little like lava rock when compared to the Bisquicks and Aunt Jemima's of the world. However, once you go buck you'll never go back. There is a nutty, full bodied taste that makes the other "white" versions taste like whipped wonder bread.

That said, the Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix is hearty but not like mixing gravel. In the recipe on the package it lists the most wholesome ingredients for preparing the recipe. I personally like to add some cinnamon or on special occasions, fruit and/or chocolate chips (Hey! There is a little sinner in all of us!) If you find the consistency is too dense, then add milk -- too thin, add some more mix. Just feel your way around the batter. And I usually find that butter on the griddle works best.

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January 10, 2006

Alba Organics Cocoa Butter Hand and Body Lotion

I tested Alba’s cocoa butter hand and body lotion, part of their “Hawaiian” skin care line, which was available in the natural foods section of a chain grocery store. The first thing you’ll notice is that this product has a very strong, sweet cocoa butter scent. (Quite frankly, I had to fight a very strong urge to lick my hands after applying it.) If you miss the smell of suntan lotion over a long winter, you’ll love it, but you wouldn’t want to mix it with any other scented product.

The lotion is a bit watery, but on the flip side it was light and non-greasy once it was fully rubbed in. My only complaint was with the packaging. The tube stands on its lid, and because the lotion is so watery, it drips all over the place when you open it up. It’d be better in a pump bottle.

The manufacturers claim the product is 72% organic (no mention of certification), with 100% vegetarian ingredients and no animal testing. Part of Avalon Natural Products, they have several different lines of skin care, hair care, bath and body, and sun care. According to a company press release, the Hawaiian product line is "a collection of natural Hawaiian beauty secrets. Tropical fruit and flower extracts, nourishing nut oils and certified organic aloe vera, revered for their curative and rejuvenating properties, are blended together to create exotic skin care and spa treatments that best reflect the beauty, vitality and spirit of the Hawaiian Islands for soft, healthy, luminous skin." The line relies on ingredients such as pineapple, papaya, passion fruit, and the kukui nut.

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December 15, 2005

Robert's American Gourmet Pirate's Booty Snack-Size Bags

Is anyone else just so excited that Pirate's Booty (or "Pirate's Foody" as my son calls it) now comes in a snack-size bag? No matter what I do to keep the bigger bag fresh, they end up tasting like packing peanuts within a day. My only complaint is that the bags are HUGE. I mean, I know Pirate's Booty is mostly air--and the bags really are just a one-ounce serving--but I don't like the kids thinking that such a large-looking bag is the norm (next stop: Doritos Big Grab). Okay, I actually just don't like the fact that I can't jam them into my purse, although that could be the fault of my overstuffed wallet (think George's exploding wallet on Seinfeld). Now if Robert's would just make snack-size Tings, 'cause mommy can't seem to keep her hand out of the bag...

Click here to stock up on Robert's American Gourmet Pirate's Booty Snack-Size Bags.

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December 12, 2005

Nature's Path Organic Blueberry Toaster Pastries

These must smell like the real deal because I had one in the toaster this morning and my husband wandered down and said, "If I was 14 I'd swear someone was cooking a Pop-Tart!" These come in Strawberry and Blueberry flavors, in both iced and uniced versions. The pastry is flaky and decadent-tasting (even though there are only 4.5 fat grams per serving in the uniced version--try comparing that to the commercial brands). The fillings are simple but good. I'm not sure I would actually serve them to my kids for breakfast but they're a nice change of pace for snack-time. I found them in the natural foods section of my local chain supermarket. Or you can click here to buy them right now on Amazon.

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